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Gay man, 25, found beheaded in Palestinian territories

The victim fled from the Palestinian territories to Israel two years ago after divulging his homosexuality.

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Ahmed Abu Markhiya // NOS Nieuws

A young Palestinian gay man was horrifically murdered last Wednesday night in Hebron City, located in the southern west bank of the Palestinian territories. The murder is suspected to have been a homophobic hate crime. 

According to the Palestinian authorities, Ahmed Abu Markhiya, 25, was found beheaded in Al-Mhawer, a neighborhood in Hebron. Reports state that the suspect was arrested near the scene of the murder, and an investigation into the murderer’s motives has been initiated.

The victim fled from the Palestinian territories to Israel two years ago after divulging his homosexuality. According to reports from social media, he received a slew of death threats upon coming out.

Abu Markhiya had obtained permission from the Israeli Civil Administration to live and work in Israel, and was staying at Al-bait al Mokhtalef, loosely translated as “The Different House”. This is a safe haven for LGBT Palestinians who have suffered violence and discrimination due to their sexual orientation.

According to Rita Petrenko, CEO of The Different House, the organization was in the process of helping Abu Markhiya relocate to Canada. “He had a lot of potential to recover. He learned quickly. He was a hardworking guy, and intelligent. He was so waiting to leave. He was next in line to emigrate,” Petrenko stated. She continued, “We are in shock. He was a friend of ours. He participated in the gay group we opened in the south and a lot of people knew him.”

On the morning of his death, Abu Markhiya left for work from a hostel in Gush Dan where he lived. By that evening, rumors of his death began to circulate. His friends claimed that he was abducted and taken back to the Palestinian territories.

As usual, the media and the supporters of the Palestinian Authority have not yet condemned this crime, like many others. They continue to remain silent on all the crimes and atrocities committed against the LGBT Palestinian community.

Abu Markhiya’s family have glossed over and obscured the motives for this killing. In order to cover up the fact that Abu Markhiya had fled to Israel as a refugee, the family also issued a statement claiming that he was simply visiting a family member in Jordan. The statement further indicated that the family seeks to maintain “civil peace” as they embrace Palestinian traditions and Islamic law.

Furthermore, a video circulating on social media shows the suspected killer’s family asking the victim’s family for amnesty. Allegedly, the victim’s family agreed saying “bring the coffee,” a tribal reference to reconciliation. Many have condemned these actions as they may embolden vigilantes to continue these crimes knowing that they will get away with them.

The escalation of these homophobic attacks at the hands of Palestinian extremists has instilled an increasing fear in the Palestinian LGBT community. Like Abu Markhiya, many LGBT Palestinians are fleeing their homes and seeking asylum in Israel for their own wellbeing and survival.

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